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August 05, 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Infrastructure NSW hidden agenda revealed

Late last night Infrastructure NSW's long hidden agenda to raise Warragamba Dam wall by 17 metres, and not the publicly stated 14 metres, was published in an application on the Federal Environment Department's website.

Infrastructure NSW's covert plan to raise the Warragamba Dam by 17 metres has been known for some time after leaked documents were published by the Herald and AAP in March 2019.

The application (attached) shows the Federal Government recently forced Infrastructure NSW to expose their long hidden plans to raise the dam wall by 17 metres. It comes after Minister Ayres, and then Infrastructure NSW CEO, Jim Betts (now Secretary of the Department of Planning), stated in Budget Estimates that the dam was to be raised no higher than 14 metres (attached).

While the application makes an extremely poor attempt at arguing "flood impact levels will remain unchanged" by raising the dam's abutments, it goes on to say the "approach enables for only the spillway crest heights to be raised in the future to accommodate climate change impacts", paving the way for a development modification to 'finish-off' the 17 metre dam raising. Such tactics are standard practise in large scale development projects of this kind to avoid public scrutiny.

There has been significant criticism of the climate change justifications for the dam project, with the former Deputy Director of the SES labelling the project 'flawed'.

Campaign Manager at the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Harry Burkitt, said:

"Given this substantial expansion to the project's size, the costs for the dam proposal will now be ballooning well beyond $1.5 billion.

"The question must be asked, what are the real economic, environmental and cultural costs of this project given the NSW Parliament has likely been misled on several occasions? What other secrets haven't been revealed by Stuart Ayres and Infrastructure NSW about their hidden schemes and agendas for this project?"

Estimates by the Colong Foundation for Wilderness place an additional 15km of watercourses and 1,000 hectares of World Heritage National Parks under threat from a 17 metre dam wall raising scenario. This is on top of the 65 kilometres of watercourses and over 5,000 hectares of National Parks and World Heritage landscapes that would be flooded by the 14 metre proposal. 

Harry Burkitt added:

"The assessments undertaken to date for the project have been for a 14 metre dam wall raising. However, this must be redone given the dramatic expansion to the size of the dam proposal to a 17 metre raising.

"The Federal and State Governments cannot let Stuart Ayres and Infrastructure NSW off the hook. They must require them to re-do all cultural and biodiversity assessment before any documents go on public exhibition."

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Australian Foundation for Wilderness Limited
ACN 001 112 143
ABN 84 001 112 143
Advocating as 'Wilderness Australia'
Formerly The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
Registered Office 8/154 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000
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